Two Massachusetts men were charged in Alaska this week with illegally killing a bull moose just to get the antlers, according to Alaska State Police.
The two men, Matthew Kelley, of Bolton, and Michael Dagius, of Leyden, were each charged on Sunday with wanton waste, a criminal misdemeanor offense in Alaska that is related to killing a big game animal without harvesting any of the meat for food.
The local prosecutor called the case “one of the worst fish and game violations” in Alaska over the last several years, according to Alaskan public radio station KYUK.
According to state police, Kelley, 42, and Dagius, 44, were hunters who paid an outdoor adventures company to be delivered into a remote area of the state for a moose hunt. They were to remain out in the Yukon Delta Game Reserve as part of an unguided hunt for for a period of at least three days.
They were brought to the state court in Bethel in the westernmost part of Alaska, roughly 200 miles west of Anchorage.
According to state police, the pair returned with moose meat and a rack of antlers. But guides with the outdoor adventure company believed the antlers were for a much larger moose than what they had with the amount of meat. The adventure company reported them to the state police.
State police said that when questioned, Kelley said he had shot and killed a small bull moose on Sept. 27, and harvested the meat. Three days later, he had shot and killed the large bull moose and retrieved only the antlers.
In addition to wanton waste, he was charged three other criminal misdemeanor offenses: taking moose over the bag limit, failing to fix a locking tag on the moose before leaving a kill site, and unlawful possession and transportation of big game meat. He was also charged with a non-criminal misdemeanor offense of failing to validate a harvest ticket.
In Alaska, non-residents are allowed to take only one antlered moose in the Yukon Delta Game Reserve.
According to KYUK, Kelley pleaded guilty at his court appearance. He could be sentenced to up to four years in jail and a $100,000 fine.
Dagius admitted to failing to validate his harvest ticket, but denied the wanton waste charge. He is due back in court on Nov. 21.
He told the Greenfield Recorder, “I’m looking forward to due process.”